Title: Heroes Adrift
Author: Moira J. Moore
Stand alone or series: Third book in the Hero series
Summary: (from amazon.com)
The Empress wants to locate the descendants of her exiled sister. No magically-bonded Pair is more ill-suited for the job than long-suffering Shield Lee Mallorough and her all-too-charming Source Shintaro Karish. Yet it’s a mission they can’t refuse.
Why did I read the book: I very much enjoyed the first two books in this series (Resenting the Hero and The Hero Strikes Back), and was eager to continue the adventures of the stoic but hilarious Shield Lee and her obnoxiously charming Source Taro. These books are compulsively readable, and firmly in the ‘unputdownable’ category.
Heroes Adrift takes off shortly after the conclusion of The Hero Strikes Back. Instead of having the nice, peaceful, uneventful rest from crazy catastrophes and death threats, the Pair is thrown right back into the thick of things with a summons from the Empress herself. Sheild Dunleavy Mallorough (she’s a girl, goes by the nickname Lee) is less than thrilled–as usual.
An introduction for those who may not have read the first two books, or a recap for those in need of some memory jogging. In this world, there some people are regular folk, but then some are Sources and some are Shields–together, they Sources and Shields make a Pair (should they be so lucky to find their other half). Sources are able to channel and control the forces of nature–they can manipulate Sources when things are out of whack, most notably when some impending natural disaster is going to occur. Sources are therefore more emotional, tempestuous and akin to feeling everything around them. On the flip side, there are Shields. Shields are diametrically opposed to the Sources–they do exactly as their name implies: they shield their Source while they are channeling surrounding forces (in the old days, Sources would go mad or would be torn apart when trying to channel forces since the very action leaves them completely vulnerable, and without their own mental shields). Shields are more stoic, serious, and necessarily more numb to feeling–all the better to protect their Sources.
A Pair is mere match up of a random Shield and Source–there is only one true partnership, and they must ‘discover’ this bond before they can be sent out into the field to protect the common folk. A Shield or Source can go their whole lives without finding their Pair. By the same token, Shields and Sources go to separate academies (under a larger organization called the Triple-S) as soon as they are discovered, to make sure they don’t spontaneously bond with their Pair. Upon graduation from the academy, they attend a bonding ceremony and hope for the best.
In the first novel, Resenting the Hero
, we are introduced to Shield Mallorough Dunleavy, our protagonist in first person POV fashion. Immediately, I found the choice of main character very interesting. Lee is neither beautiful, nor sensational–she is completely and utterly reasonable. Her first thoughts are about how she would much rather be Paired with a sensible, non-heroic type Source, so that she can live out her responsible, middle of the road life. She has no interest in saving the day and earning fame. Unfortunately for Lee, she bonds with Source Shintaro Karish (Taro for short). Taro is a gorgeous specimen of man, loved by all, and nicknamed ‘the Stallion of the Triple-S’. Not because he looks like a horse. Well…not his face, anyways. He also happens to be enormously talented, and a ‘hero’ in his own right.
After the shenanigans of the first two books, saving the world and such, Taro and Lee develop a deep bond that goes beyond just being a Pair. They understand each other, respect each other, and–naturally–there is some serious underlying romantic tension (although that sort of thing is frowned upon at the Triple-S…for obvious reasons, if things don’t work out romantically between a Pair, they are still Paired, and must continue to work with each other for the rest of their lives…just imagine that level of awkwardness).
Heroes Adrift begins with a summons to the Empress, and her desire for the Pair to find her long lost sister, or any of her descendants. The Empress is getting old, and has no heir. The next to inherit the throne is her Prince cousin, who isn’t up to her standards. Since Taro and Lee are the famous pair that has saved the world twice before, the Empress needs them to serve her bidding. Turns out, when she was very young her mother had a bastard child, who was sent away to the Southern Isles into hiding.
Thus, Lee and Shintaro take off for the exotic Southern Isles, which are kind of a cross between Southeast Asia and some sort of West African type culture–you know, kind of a typical (if something of a parody) of the Southern Isles that seem to be in a lot of fantasy series. It is here that circumstances from the first two books are flipped topsy turvy. Lee has always been the sensible, plain one. She quietly, somewhat mockingly, sits back and observes Taro’s acts as social butterfly and local darling, making her own tongue in cheek narration. However, upon reaching the Southern Isles it seems that no one is impressed by Taro’s charm. Instead, Lee is seen as the great beauty (mostly due to her fiery red hair and more ample figure). Also, unlike back in their homeland, no one in the Southern Isles recognizes Pairs and expects them to pay for everything–since Taro and Lee have never had need for currency before, they must seek work. And since they have no skills other than channeling and shielding, this proves slightly complicated.
Not to mention the fact they must also figure out how to find the missing royal family member and/or her descendants–which seems to be a wild goose chase.
This installment to the series is…mmm, ok. It’s good, just not as good as the prior two books. I loved the change of scenery, and I loved that the focus of attention this time was Lee instead of the usual Shinatro show. I found it hilarious that sensible, down to earth Lee became “Leavy the fire dancer” (read the book–you’ll see!), and that Taro got to see how it feels to be in Lee’s less than extravagant shoes. Also, this volume brings a turning point in Lee and Taro’s relationship. I won’t say how or what, but it’s a turning point.
However. This one lacked the same magic as the first two books. This book felt much more like a middle sibling, or a transition type book–the search for the royal family was oh so predictable, and the plot felt very vague and…well, transitional. Not to say it was bad, just not as sharp or crisply written as the first two books. I also found myself not liking Lee as much as a narrator in this one–but since this is all part of her journey of self discovery and trying to ‘regain her balance’, I’ll take it. I also felt like there wasn’t enough on Taro–he felt more like a side character in this one. Then again, this is kind of cool because Lee no longer is revolving her world around Karish and for once takes center stage.
I finished this book very quickly, in one sitting, and despite the fact that it was not quite as funny or witty as the first two, it was no slouch either. Ms. Moore has a gift for writing a gripping story, and I eagerly await the next installment to the series. I like the new directions and growth that Lee and Shintaro have taken in this latest volume, and cannot wait to read more about them.
Notable Quotes/Parts: Wait for the portion when Lee performs her fire dance for the first time…seriously. *puts on ninja mask and handsprings away*
Additional Thoughts: A general note–many fantasy type series’ follow this sort of story arc, where the third book in a series introduces a leading couple to either a child of their own, or they discover some sort of orphan child they must care for (and thus learn responsibility and selflessness, settle down, etc). Heroes Adrift is no exception–like Kushiel’s Avatar (book 3 of the Phedre trilogy portion of the Kushiel’s Legacy series), Lee and Taro find an abandoned child, and despite misunderstandings and clashing personalities, they take the orphan child under their wing. Not a bad thing, but just an observation.
Also, randomly, on the cover: I like this one, even though it looks nothing like the first two. More grown up, if still a bit cheesy.
I enjoyed this one very much, even if it wasn’t quite as good as the first or second volume. Will definitely be back for more.
Rating: 7 Very Good
Reading Next: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews